© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated
Thirty-three-year-old American Zach Bitter broke the world 100-mile record this week in the Six Days in the Dome race on the indoor track at the Pettit Centre located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The race started at 2:30 pm on Saturday, August 24.
He ran through in the time of 11-hours, 19-minutes and 13 seconds and covered 169.90-kilometres (104.88 miles). He also bettered the 12-hour record.
It was a pursuit that took him over six years to achieve, after he had set the American 100-mile record at the Desert Solstice Invitational in 2013 where he ran 11:40:55.
His new world record took Russian Oleg Kharitonov’s performance of 11:28:03 from 2002.
Asked about the experience versus his Desert Solstice record-setting race, Bitter told Athletics Illustrated, “I think a bit of experience and a slightly different pacing strategy was the biggest difference. At Solstice, I faded pretty hard the last 15 miles. I was a bit more conservative in the early miles at the Pettit Center, which ultimately produced a two-minute and three-second negative split.
It definitely helped to have the added motivation of not wanting to have the same thing happen at the end of this race. The way I describe it is the difference between a solid day and a great day is how many more times you can push back the self-doubt.”
Bitter was busy training for the 246-kilometre Spartathlon in Greece that runs between Athens and Sparti (Sparta) that happens in September when he got a call from the race director. He was training in the hot summer of Phoenix, Arizona where the temperatures would climb over 38C or 100F.
Six Days in the Dome would be a tune-up race for Spartathlon and an attempt at the record, which he could feel was within his reach.
Asked how he feels to be on the other side of the record-setting performance he said, “It feels great. It has been a nearly six-year journey to find this day. The fact that I stayed motivated and determined despite some failed attempts along the way means far more than the actual WR to me. Ultimately, my curiosity is in how fast I can run a flat 100-miler. I think I can take more time of this race, so I’ll definitely be picking some spots down the road.”
He averaged 6:48/mile (4:14/km), a negative split with the second half done in under five-hours and 40 minutes.
The track is measured at 443-metres in length.
Bitter, known as a low-carb and high fat advocate, does take in a strategic load of carbohydrates leading up to an important race and during the event as well. Asked about his strategy for the world record performance he said, “My pre-race and race protocol starts about a week out. I go very low carb for about 4-5 days at the beginning of the week. When I am about 36-48 hours from the race, I start bringing back a few carb options.
I typically like some potatoes, fruit, and or raw honey. On race day, my fuelling focus is on-board fat, glycogen, and exogenous carbohydrate. Even the leanest athletes have enough body fat to fuel that side of things during the event. Muscle glycogen is the fuel tank that is at risk of running low, so I’ll do a slow drip of carbs throughout the race. My protocol on this day was on the higher end of what I normally target. This was mostly due to the cooler temps inside the Pettit Center, I was confident I wouldn’t have stomach issues.
It ended up being about 20 grams of Xendurance Fuel-5 every 30 minutes mixed in a range of water from 8-16 ounces depending on thirst level. Starting at hour five, I began taking a pack of Unimate (an instant blend of the popular yerba mate tea) every hour until the finish.”
The 2019 event is the second edition of Six Days in the Dome. The first was held in August 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska at the Alaska Dome.
In that trace, Joe Fejes broke the American record for a six-day run with his 169-kilometre performance.
Learn more about Zach, here: https://zachbitter.com
Social media: Insta: @zachbitter Twitter: @zbitter
Athletics Illustrated interview: https://athleticsillustrated.com/the-zach-bitter-interview/